Some two and a half years ago I wrote a couple of posts on my dust collection system, and experiences with a couple of companies supplying products in that arena. The first post in that series can be found here. Part II is linked at the bottom of that entry.
I decided last week that I should extend my dust collection system so as to add my small Hitachi bandsaw, having gotten tired of wrestling it out of the way to sweep up the dust which accumulated underneath. Wanting an ever-cleaner shop, I made a call to my trusted supplier, Air Handling Systems down in Woodbridge Connecticut. As I was ordering just two lengths of 6" pipe and a few fittings, there was a shipping difficulty. The shipping by common carrier would be a bit expensive for such a small amount, and Fedex won't accept 10' lengths of pipe. So I decided to drive down there in person - -well, I convinced my shop neighbor Joe to drive, as he has a truck and mine is off the road at the moment. Good thing is that he was just as interested as I was to check out the company and their manufacturing set up.
It was also a nice day for a drive and traffic was light, so we were down there in less than 2 hours:
The leaves seemed to be about a week ahead of where I live.
Once there we were greeted by Juan, a friendly shipping department employee who has been with the company for 23 years, and shortly thereafter the general manager came out to say hello. He ended up giving Joe and me a tour of the factory and even let me take pictures as I pleased. So, I thought it would be worth sharing this on the blog, as surely some readers out there have dust collection of their own, or interest in upgrading their system perhaps.
The piping is spiral wound, and I always wondered exactly how it was made. It starts with coiled sheets of 18 gauge:
The sheet is positioned on a carrier and then fed into a Swiss-made 'Spiro' machine:
In the background to the right you can see a second Spiro machine. Note the tall casting sticking up - that's that's the part of the machine which forms the pipe into an interlocked coil and cuts it to length.
The machine has a large knurled feed wheel in the intake side, and the initial pass is over dies which roll both edges of the pipe into a locking seam:
The have spiral formers of various sizes, as you can see:
The can make some pretty large ductwork:
Besides pipe, they make all sorts of different fittings. The fittings start out as sheet, which is cut into shape by a CNC plasma cutter:
An employee forms some edge details into a sheet as an initial step:
Another employee has rolled a section of a fitting and is spot welding it:
Other companies out there conclude the process after spot welding, however Air Handling supplies fully-welded fittings. This machine welds the seams in a water bath:
A completed fully-welded seam:
Here you can see a line up of fittings with some through the spot welded phase and others which have had their seams fully welded up:
I was again impressed with the company. Nice to meet people who care about their business and are on a path of continuous improvement to serve their customers better.
All for today- thanks for dropping by the Carpentry Way.